Ruwanka Purasinghe is a civil engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He plans, designs and implements projects to ensure residents always have a safe supply of water. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You - Engineering Your World - Ruwanka Purasinghe
RUWANKA PURASINGHE (Civil Engineer):
I'm in the geotechnical engineering group working on construction projects like this. Making sure it's being constructed the way we designed.
My name's Ruwanka Purasinghe. I'm a civil engineer for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. When you turn your faucet on, turn your shower or anything like that, I make sure that the water that you are getting delivered to your home is always safe and consistently there.
I grew up in Los Angeles, born and raised. Working for the City of Los Angeles gives me a lot of pride and joy just knowing that the work that I do and the projects that I work on affect the community that I grew up with and people that are family to me. I feel like civil engineering was always encouraged and brought out obviously with my dad being a civil engineer. So when I was making a decision of what to major in in college, I really didn't have to think about it too much. Civil engineering was an easy choice.
I was extremely fortunate to have a summer in Rome, Italy, where I was able to study abroad. Just seeing the infrastructure and seeing the engineering that went into Rome for thousands of years was truly inspirational. The Romans thought about how do we bring water to people thousands of years ago when they developed an aqueduct system and a public drinking system and still it's being used today. I think that's amazing. I would say that really sparked my interest in the water industry.
Recycled water is really important for L.A., all of California really, after the drought that is still affecting California and especially Southern California. Recycled water is water that is being used after it's been treated and finds different purposes. So we use it a lot for irrigation purposes.
I'm standing in front of the Griffith Park South Water Recycling Project's tank, which is a 1 million gallon tank. It's about 80 feet in diameter and 40 feet in height. Out here at Griffith Park, we have a golf course that we're connecting to it, which is going to save L.A. millions of gallons of water every year. From a creative standpoint the drilling process from the pump station to the tank was very unique. It was chosen so it would have lower environmental impacts and lower impacts to the community who use the park for hiking purposes and things like that. So drilling through the park was actually a really innovative idea.
I like to think of all projects in three components. Planning, design, and construction. I've been fortunate enough to have worked on all three phases of the Griffith Park South Water Recycling Project. When I'm with my parents or my brother and sister, I always point out the tank because you can see it from the freeway and just to be able to point at something that's in a historic landmark in LA, which is Griffith Park, to say that I designed that and I worked on that, it's an amazing feeling.
Ruwanka Purasinghe's work is important to the people of California, who suffer a lack of water during long droughts. In this TIME for Kids story, learn about the first drought that caused California to order mandatory water-usage cuts.
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